So you want to save money for traveling, but you don’t know where to start?
Here’s the truth: saving your hard-earned dollars for that dream trip isn’t easy. It takes a lot of sacrifice, dedication and hard work, but trust me – when you’re soaking up the sun on an exotic beach in paradise, it’ll all be worth it. With that in mind, I’ve created a mega resource to help you out: a beastly list of 99 ways you can save money for your travels, with plenty of helpful links to send you in the right direction. With these actionable baby steps, you can easily start racking up that cash in no time!
General tips on saving money
1. Set savings goals.
Set weekly or monthly savings goals to keep yourself on trackai! Having these goals in mind will help you veer away from temptation, and it’ll give you boosts of motivation when you hit your targets.
2. Actually budget.
Even a basic budget (e.g. only spending x amount of money on food that week) can help you spend your money more wisely.
Further reading: How to Make a Budget
3. … and track your expenses while you’re at it.
It’s scary how easily we can lose track of how much we’re spending. Take note of each dime you spend and you’ll be better able to locate where all your money is going, and adjust accordingly. There’s a lot of free apps out there for this purpose, which makes tracking a breeze.
Further reading: 12 free apps to track your spending
4. Set up a travel account and automatically send money into it.
5. Get a travel credit card.
Having a good travel credit card can mean racking up airmiles and rewards while spending what you’d be spending anyway! Be sure to shop around and see if there are airline or hotel credit cards available for brands you love. For instance, fans of the Marriott brand are able to reap up plenty of sweet perks like free stays through using a Marriott Rewards card. Not a bad deal!
Further reading: How to pick a travel credit card
6. Dump your tips and loose change into a piggy bank.
You might laugh at this one, but I once paid for an entire weekend in Las Vegas with a piggy bank crammed with coins and 5 dollar bills. Back in my unglamorous Starbucks barista days, the tips were rather… dire. BUT, after 1.5 years foaming up cappucinos, I had enough for a trip in Vegas! It all adds up.
7. Become resistant to peer-pressure!
“Come on, just one drink” are the most dangerous words ever uttered! It’s easy to get peer pressured into spending, whether it’s an innocent “but that top looks amazing on you” or guilting you into coming out for a concert. That’s why it’s important to always have the big picture in mind, and not give into pressure from your peers.
Another thing that can help is being open and honest with the people in your life about your budget/what you’re saving up for. That way they’ll be less pushy and hopefully more understanding.
8. Get someone to hold you accountable, or someone who wants to save with you.
Whether it’s a friend, family member or significant other, having someone there to police your habits can make a huge difference in you sticking to your saving plan. Even better, grab a friend who has similar goals and you can support each other through the process.
How to make a little extra cash
9. Earn free online gift cards with Swagbucks.
When I first discovered Swagbucks, I almost cried. Essentially, it’s a free online community that rewards its members with gift cards for doing things they already do online, e.g. Googling (no joke), watching videos, doing surveys and more. Through doing certain tasks, you rack up “Swagbucks” which you can redeem for things like Amazon gift cards. I was super into this years ago, and have earned tons of free gift cards from it. It’s easy work but adds up to awesome rewards! You can create a free account here.
10. Sell your stuff.
Whether it’s at a garage sale or through Facebook, getting rid of things you no longer use can add up to tons of $$$ (and it helps you declutter too!)
Further reading: How to make money selling your old stuff
11. Take up some extra side gigs.
Tutoring, dog walking, freelancing – you name it, there’s many ways to pick up some extra work. Why not put that income directly into funding for your travels?
Further reading: Real ways to earn money online
12. Rent out any spare space you have, or AirBNB when you’re out of town.
If you haven’t signed up for AirBNB, click here to get $40 CAD in travel credit when you sign up today!
Saving money on food & drink
13. Cut down on the boozy nights out.
My boyfriend and I share expenses when it comes to groceries and dining out. We each put equal amounts into a ‘food fund’ and just dip into that whenever the need arises, because it’s just simpler that way. One time, we looked down at our food fund and said “so… we can either get groceries for a week… or go out to the bar for one night.” This statement is sadly very accurate! Going out is expensive, alcohol is expensive, and if saving money for travel is your goal, then cutting down on these nights out is a great way to do that.
14. If you must though, predrink.
Ah, predrinking, pre-gaming, whatever you call it – it was once uni-me’s best friend, but hey, it can still be yours too! If you don’t want to be a complete social recluse, then consider having a few drinks with friends at home before heading out for the night. The predrink is usually my favourite part of the night anyways – you can actually hear each other and interact!
15. Better yet, host a boozy night in.
As a 20-something, I understand how alcohol can be a… pretty important part of one’s social calendar. That said, a great alternative to hitting up yet another bar or club is simply having friends over for a few drinks. This can easily cut your booze spending in half.
Further reading: 11 easy cocktails to make at home
16. Buy groceries and cook your own meals, rather than eat out all the time.
17. Learn the art of the bulk cook.
Cooking takes a lot of time and preparation, but if you’re able to set aside a few hours one day of the week to make huge batches of food, then you’ll have lunch and dinner set for the week, which makes it really easy to…
18. Bring lunch to school/work.
We’re all guilty of just buying lunch because it’s more convenient, but these daily lunches can add up quickly. Bringing your own lunch from home is not just cheaper, but better for you.
Further reading: Batch cooking 101
Saving money on shopping
19. Grocery shop somewhere cheaper.
I once knew a girl who complained constantly about being broke, yet did all her grocery shopping at Whole Foods. There’s no shame in shopping at budget grocery stores like Aldi or Lidl! If you cook often, this one switch alone will save you tons of cash.
20. Plan your grocery shopping/meals around what’s on sale.
You know those annoying flyers you usually get with your local paper? Browse those in advance of your shopping trip (or look online) so you know what’s on sale, and create that week’s menu accordingly.
21. Buy what’s in season/available locally.
In-season fruits and veggies will be cheaper than those that are out of season. This doesn’t have to get repetitive and boring! Rather, look at it as an opportunity to expand your culinary horizons and get inventive with new recipes.
22. Buy items in bulk.
If you’ve got space, consider buying staple items like spices, rice, pasta, etc. in bulk to save 1) time and 2) precious moola.
Further reading: The ultimate guide to buying in bulk
23. Buy store brand.
Oh brands – they control our lives in so many ways. Here’s the truth though – there’s often little difference between buying generic store brand vs. big brand names. The savings though can amount to a whole lot.
24. Make coupons your best friend.
I wish I had the patience and craftiness of an extreme couponer, but sadly I lack that kind of organization. Still, you don’t have to be an extreme couponer to reap the rewards of coupons! It’s easy to find discount codes for just about anything these days (even online shops), plus physical coupons are often available at the store. A simple trick is to Google “store + coupon (or discount code)” before you go shopping. You never know!
Further reading: Where can I find coupons?
25. For things other than groceries, buy out of season.
For instance: jackets in the summer, sunglasses in the winter… look out for end-of-season sales as well.
26. Learn the art of thrifting.
You don’t necessarily need to buy brand new when you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe! Look into getting new items from second hand shops, flea markets or even off Facebook groups. Often, the items will be unworn with the tags still on, except at a fraction of the cost!
27. If you must shop, wait for big sales.
Most things eventually go on sale. While it’s tempting to grab that pretty new dress as soon as you see it, you could probably get it for half price in a month or so. Patience is key! For bigger ticket items (like TVs and other electronics), keep your eye out for big annual sales like Black Friday or Boxing Day.
28. Bookworms, take advantage of the library.
I love a good book, but there’s no denying that they’re pricey. Instead of buying new books, why not make some trips to the local library?
29. … or buy used books instead.
Used book shops are another awesome, cheap alternative… plus they’re so much more fun to browse!
30. Avoid impulse buys.
Spot a gorgeous pair of shoes that you just need to have? Exercise that self control and wait. If you are still dying to have those shoes over a week later, then you’ll be more certain that you genuinely want them.
31. Shop online.
A lot of things can be bought cheaper online through Amazon, eBay and a bunch of other websites. Shop around online for a bit before committing to a purchase in-person – you could save loads!
Further reading: 7 items that are (often) cheaper to buy online
Saving money on fun
32. Propose cost-effective hangouts with your friends.
When my friends want to see each other, for some reason we always default to expensive activities like going out or grabbing food at a restaurant. Why not propose cheaper activities like a walk in the park, playing sports somewhere outdoors, etc?
33. Invite friends over for dinner in lieu of another meal out.
On that note, try hosting dinner parties instead of visiting yet another restaurant. Potlucks are super easy to organize, and plenty of fun too.
34. If you must eat out, go for lunch rather than dinner.
Sometimes, you’ll be dying to check out that hip new restaurant, but hey, remember that lunch is usually cheaper than dinner, so if you’re gonna come give it a try, do it then.
35. Enjoy movies at home, rather than at the theatre.
Movie bingeathons at home are the best. There’s no million dollar popcorn to buy, no annoying chatterboxes kicking the back of your seat… Plus, you won’t be spending $10+ on a ticket.
36. For fun activities, go when it’s cheaper.
Be more strategic about your fun! If you’re indulging in drinks, do so at Happy Hour… or say, if it’s Margarita Monday, have a cheap margarita rather than a glass of wine. Really need to catch that new Star Wars movie (can’t blame you!)? Then go for a cheaper matinee showing or on a cheap discount day if your local cinema has them.
37. Look on Groupon and other discount sites for fun things to do.
Sites like Groupon often offer super cool activities for a fraction of the cost. Be careful though – don’t fall for the trap of just buying a bunch of Groupons ‘because they’re cheaper than normal’. You might be spending extra because you wouldn’t have gone for that experience without the deal.
38. Take advantage of free events happening in your community.
Festivals, markets, you name it – there’s always awesome, free things that are happening where you live, so take advantage of those to have some fun without breaking the bank.
Saving money on your lifestyle
39. Downgrade that phone plan.
Phone plans and data especially can be super pricey. Pick a cheaper phone plan and instead rely more on public WiFi (or you know, disconnect a bit and enjoy life without being glued to your phone).
40. Ditch cable.
Why not make use of services like Netflix instead?
41. Walk places when you’re able to.
42. Cut out the takeaway coffee.
Those $2 coffees and $5 cappuccinos add up to tons of money that you could be spending on your dream holiday.
43. Exercise outside or at home instead of at the gym.
Gym memberships are great, but there is plenty of exercise that you can do outside of a gym to keep you fit.
Further reading: 15 workouts you can easily do at home
44. DIY gifts.
Some of the best gifts come from the heart! Here are some awesome articles to get you started on easy, cheap and thoughtful DIY gifts:
45. Embrace freebies.
It’s crazy how much stuff you’re able to get for free. Besides samples from marketers/promoters, there are actually some people who have had success by writing to companies and simply asking for free things. No joke! This awesome article by Tough Nickel shows how it’s possible to get scores of free products by writing letters to companies.
46. Cancel your magazine subscriptions.
Read blogs and online magazines instead!
47. Cut down on utilities use.
Shorter showers, turning off the lights, you name it! These little sacrifices mean you’re just that much closer to that dream trip.
Further reading: 41 super easy ways to lower your electric bill
48. Give up bad habits like smoking.
Smoking, gambling, etc. – not only are these habits expensive to support, they’re not particularly good for you either!
49. Split subscriptions with friends/roommates.
50. Sign up for rewards programs.
All kinds of stores these days offer rewards programs for your loyalty and spending. The key here is to only sign up for programs at places you would be shopping anyway, so that you’re not spending extra money just to reap up points or rewards.
Further reading: Can store loyalty programs save you money?
51. Car pool more often.
52. Instead of gifts for your birthday or for the holidays, ask for money or travel-related things you can use on your next trip.
53. Resist the temptation to upgrade your tech.
Haven’t you noticed? Anytime there’s new tech products released, the things that you own will inevitably feel outdated/crappy even though they still work fine. I know I’m guilty of always wanting the latest iPhone, but big tech purchases are so expensive (and unnecessary if what you have still works fine).
54. Say bye to your landline.
You always have your mobile on you anyways!
55. Make little changes to your diet, like Meatless Mondays.
56. Practice DIY beauty.
It’s nice to be pampered every once in a while, but spa treatments, waxing appointments, etc. all amount to a lot of money spent on things you could do on your own.
57. Look into makeup dupes.
While I’m not super into makeup, I know enough to realize how freaking expensive it can be!! The thing with high end makeup is that yes, you usually get what you pay for, but at the same time, there’s a lot of dupes out there that give you the same results for much less. Check out this post about insanely good makeup dupes to get you started.
58. Paint your own nails.
Going to a nail salon is a real luxury, but you can easily pamper yourself at home too. Check out this post on 7 Steps to a DIY Manicure and Pedicure at Home.
59. Move back home.
This is a big one, and comes at the cost of your independence (and potentially, your sanity). That said, if you’re saving up for a really big trip and you’re due to move away in a few months anyway, there’s no shame in moving back with your parents for a month or two. Not only do you save huge on things like rent, utilities and possibly food, it gives you a chance to reconnect with family.
Money-saving tips when you’re travelling
60. Plan your travels in advance.
If however, you have more flexibility in your plans, then you can…
61. Look into last minute deals.
This is an awesome post featuring the best sites for booking last minute travel.
62. Find cheap flight deals online.
You can use search engines like Skyscanner to browse around and look at cheap options for flights. Otherwise, there are also plenty of websites that do the leg work for you and post when there’s exceptional deals. My personal favourite is Secret Flying.
Further reading: Do a cheap flight search like a pro
63. Travel during the off-season.
Cheaper and less crowds – this is usually my #1 travel tip for those looking to go on a budget.
64. Travel to where the exchange rate is in your favour.
Likewise, you should also…
65. Orient your travel plans around where your money will go furthest.
Travelling to cheaper countries means you’ll be able to travel longer, and also indulge in more cool experiences and delicious food while you’re at it.
Further reading: Top 12 cheapest travel destinations
66. Harness the power of your connections to save $$ on accommodations.
I’m not saying you should call up your ex-boyfriend’s cousin’s butcher to ask for a free couch to sleep on, but if you do happen to know friends in the place you’re staying, don’t hesitate to connect and see if there’s potential for them to host you. You save bundles this way, and you get an awesome local guide to show you the sights. Important: Don’t forget to buy a small gift or something as a token of appreciation!
67. Stay in hostels/AirBNBs rather than hotels, or better yet – volunteer/work at a hostel in exchange for free accommodations.
Hostels are cost-effective, yes but I also love them because of their social atmosphere, ideal for solo travellers. Contrary to popular belief, hostels can be comfortable, clean and awesome… you just need to know how to sort the good from the bad.
Where to find good hostels:
Europe’s Famous Hostels: an association of hostels in Europe whose members must adhere to high standards of quality in facilities and location. Each city only has one ‘famous hostel’, so this makes it rather easy to find a good quality hostel with a solid reputation.
Hostelworld: A great resource for looking up hostels all over the world, though it does involve some work to ensure that you pick a good one. Be sure to sort by rating, look at lots of reviews and cross-reference reviews with other sites like TripAdvisor as well just to make sure you’re sure about the place you’re booking!
The Hostel Girl: An awesome blog with tons of resources on hostel life/budget travel.
As for finding work at a hostel, this isn’t actually as complicated as most people think – often times you can check into a hostel and ask if they are accepting volunteers to work/clean in exchange for a free bed. If this kind of uncertainty isn’t your thing, email a bunch of different hostels before your arrival to see if they are hiring.
If hostels aren’t your thing, AirBNBs are an awesome alternative to hotels and are not just cheaper, but let you live more like a local! Click here for a $40 CAD discount on your first AirBNB experience.
Further reading: 5 steps to a 5* AirBNB Experience
68. Try Couchsurfing.
I personally haven’t tried it yet, but many travellers I’ve met swear by this online network, where you stay with a local free of charge. Most of the time, your host also doubles as an awesome person who can show you around, so it’s a win-win. If it’s your first time and you’re worried about safety, perhaps try it first with a friend, and always make sure to check reviews and references… For the most part though, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things.
Further reading: The Ultimate Guide to Couchsurfing
69. Fly carry-on only.
Packing light is always a good idea, plus you avoid checked bag fees, save time at the airport and are no longer at risk of your bag getting lost.
Further reading: Carry-on only – travel in 11 pounds
70. Get to know budget airlines.
They’re not necessarily the most luxurious, but it is absolutely mindblowing sometimes how cheap you can fly with these companies! In Europe for instance, RyanAir and EasyJet can often get you places cheaper than a bus. Not sure where to start with budget airlines? Budget Airline Guide is a great resource.
71. Slow down and explore fewer places with your time.
We often try to maximize our time abroad by hopping from destination to destination, but doing so is not only exhausting, you’re spending extra to get from place to place. Rather than spend only a day or two in a city, try staying for longer. This not only saves you transport costs, but makes for a more enjoyable experience overall.
72. Get free apps to communicate with people from home.
Gone are the days when you need to pay for international plans and roaming! Get free apps like Whatsapp, Messenger and Viber to keep everyone at home in the loop while you’re gone.
Further reading: Top 10 apps to stay in touch while abroad
73. Skip the car rental.
Cars are expensive, and parking is too. Unless you’re doing a big road trip, or travelling to a spot where public transit isn’t ideal, then forgo the rental car and opt for cheaper public transit instead.
74. Opt for free walking tours, rather than paid guided tours.
Free walking tours are my absolute favourite. Usually the guides are fantastic, because they ask you to pay at the end what you thought the tour was worth. This means you’re able to contribute within your means. Important: don’t just tag along for the ride and skimp out without giving anything at all. These guys work really hard, and running away is just uncool.
If you’re travelling in Europe, Sandeman’s New Europe tours have been consistently awesome in my books!
75. Learn how to do your own laundry while on the road.
It’s surprisingly easy and a lot more convenient than trying to track down a laundromat.
Further reading: How to do laundry when traveling
76. Take advantage of the sharing economy.
The traveler’s community is an incredible one that values sharing and reciprocation. There are a lot of incredible websites out there that connect people to share meals, rides, accommodations and more to cut costs! Take advantage of this to not only save money, but meet awesome new people.
Further reading: The ultimate list of sharing economy services for travel
77. Don’t spend money on maps – rely on offline maps for your phone instead.
Google Maps has free ‘save for offline’ options and I’m also a big fan of Maps.me, a free app that lets you download maps of locations all around the world. Super handy for me because I get lost so often!
78. Catch public transit, rather than using taxis.
79. Better yet, walk when you’re able.
Walking is 100% my favourite way to explore a new place, plus you’re able to get off the beaten path and wander wherever your heart fancies, which is pretty wonderful.
80. Look into ridesharing.
Sites like Kangaride (Canada & US), BlaBaCar (Europe, India, South America) and HitchPlanet allow you to carpool to different locations and split the cost of gas. This is usually cheaper than buses or trains, and you can meet new people along the way.
81. Give night buses/trains a try.
It’s not super comfortable, but you save on a night of accommodations and the fares themselves are often cheaper.
82. Don’t get duped by exchange places.
Exchanging your money to the local currency usually comes at a cost, but if you don’t do your research, you could get duped by unfavourable rates or even high commission costs. ATMs and credit cards are usually a safer bet than using the currency exchange bureaus you see at the airport or in touristy areas, but it helps to research exchange rates and everything before you go, just so you have an idea of how much to expect.
Further reading: How to Get the Best Exchange Rate
83. Become a free WiFi jedi.
Roaming charges and data plans – eugh! Avoid them by mastering the art of finding free WiFi. Places like Starbucks and McDonalds are quite consistent for this purpose, and most major cities now have hotspots at main tourist locations. Do a little research before you head out, and you’ll be fine.
84. Cook for yourself.
The beauty of staying at a hostel or AirBNB with a kitchen is that you’re not forced to eat all your meals out. Go grocery shopping and pack sandwiches for lunch, or make a cozy dinner at home. It’s all about balance!
One of my favourite ways to experience a city is through picnicking. Grab some goods from a market or grocery store, find a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy your cheap meal while taking in splendid views.
86. If tap water is drinkable, forgo bottled water.
Buying water bottles constantly adds up, even if they’re only 1 or 2 dollars. When tap water is drinkable, bring your own bottle and refill it on your own! This is not just more cost-effective, it’s also great for the environment too.
87. Get food from markets.
I love exploring food markets, and you can easily grab a lunch or snack here for way cheaper than a restaurant.
88. Avoid tourist traps.
Tourist traps are unfortunately quite ubiquitous in more touristic locales. Do your research beforehand so that you know which attractions and restaurants are worth your money.
89. Chat with locals about good places to grab a cheap bite.
Nobody will know good/cheap places to eat better than a local. Strike up a conversation and ask for cost-effective eats in the area.
90. Book a place that offers free breakfast.
91. Save some leftovers for the next day, rather than stuffing yourself.
Yay, (free-ish) lunch!
92. Split costs with friends.
One of the most basic backpacker lunches is to grab a big loaf of bread, a packet of salami and a hunk of cheese, then split it between a group of friends. This is guaranteed to be one of the cheapest yet most satisfying meals you’ll ever have,
93. Do your own research rather than relying on guidebooks.
94. Do plenty of research on free activities wherever you’re visiting.
There’s usually a lot of cool, free activities to take advantage of in any given city. Be sure to give ‘free things to do + destination’ a Google and see what you find.
95. Look for coupon codes.
If you’re buying anything online (E.g. tickets, admissions, flights), it never hurts to hunt online for coupon codes. It takes two seconds to Google it, and then it’s instant savings.
96. Always ask if there’s discounts.
There’s usually discounts for students and various other groups, even when they’re not listed. At the city walls in Dubrovnik, a friend of mine literally paid a quarter of the full price because he had a student card (and this discount wasn’t listed anywhere on site!)
97. Look into tourist cards.
Most major tourist destinations will have tourist cards which allow you to visit their main attractions for the fixed price of one card. Typically, they’ll have different cards set for time periods like 24h, 48h, 72hr, etc. and for the price of that card, you get free/discounted admissions to attractions, plus other perks like transportation. If you’re a heavy sightseer and are strategic about how you use your card, this could save you tons of money.
98. Hitting up museums? Research free days.
Most major museums will have days of the week or month when entrance is free. Google these free days for your next destination and save on admission fees.
99. Choose a good bank that won’t charge you for bank withdrawals.
I will never forget the day that I finally decided to read over my past few months of bank statements in Germany, only to realize that my bank had been charging me 6 EUROS for each withdrawal outside of the country. At that point, I had travelled quite a bit with it and so had accrued an angering amount of charges for legitimately nothing except accessing my own money. Don’t make my mistake – find a bank that doesn’t charge for withdrawals or something more acceptable than what I was paying.
So there you have it, my saving superstars. Your dream trip is within reach, I promise! Just make these small changes to your life and you’ll be crushing those saving goals in no time.
Now over to you ! Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any of your favourite money-saving tips!